Life of a Consultant Series

The virtual start of a junior consultant

Erik Lijster, life science consultant, reflects on his (virtual) start at Catalyze.

Joining Catalyze

What a start to the year! In January, I started as a life science consultant at Catalyze. It was a very strange time to start looking for a job and I also wasn’t very sure what to expect when I got the green light at the beginning of the year. Meeting your colleagues via a digital coffee doesn’t sound that exciting right? Yet, both teams in Amsterdam and Utrecht made me feel at home and rolled out the (virtual) red carpet out for me! Building strong team spirit is highly valued at Catalyze and therefore many social activities are organized to relax and have a chat with one another. For example, an online team dinner, Catalyze-wide pub quiz, or sports tournaments/rankings to make sports more fun and stay active.

To get acquainted with the Catalyze way of working, all starters were provided with a two-week starters training. During these weeks, I got familiar with all the different departments and their daily activities, which gave me an overview of all the services that Catalyze provides. Furthermore, senior consultants and Team Leads specialized in particular topics taught me the tricks and strategies to deliver successful grant applications with interesting lectures or hands-on exercises. This gave me a head start to the job of junior consultant!

Initial experiences of consultancy

With a background in biomedical sciences, I jumped in as a life science consultant. I really like being involved already in a wide variety of projects. For example, I recently helped a Swedish start-up apply for funding for the development of an innovation that uses UV light to harden biodegradable ‘bone glue’ for complex bone fractures, which ultimately is aimed to replace inconvenient metal plates and screws. This was a spinoff company founded by professors from a Swedish university, so the scientific part of the project was all there. However, the business-related part about commercialization, sales forecasts and global penetration needed some extra attention. For this part, we scheduled brainstorm sessions and we provided the client with useful tools to co-create a realistic scenario for the roll-out of their product. For a completely different project I was involved with a consortium that envisioned an automatically monitored greenhouse. Their plan was to adjust the greenhouse climate to the most optimal growth conditions for vegetable growth with the aim to improve sustainability, increased yields and improved food quality.

At Catalyze I am given the opportunity to develop my expertise in a particular field of interest, such as drug development or medical devices, or an all-round consultant interested in helping clients in various fields. Broadening your scope by working on a variety of projects for clients from different sectors provides you with useful knowledge towards becoming a better consultant that knows what clients need.

Reflecting on a great start

After some exciting months, I’m now getting more and more familiar with the style and the ways of a consultant. I have worked on some very cool projects and it was rewarding to see our hard work pay off with excellent results in the recent Eurostars round. Let’s see how many projects will be granted and which company’s will be getting the support in letting their innovation reach their full potential.  Also, I’m looking forward to building new partnerships and build consortia in the coming months. I’m eagerly anticipating on finding suitable candidates for grant applications that require big consortia throughout Europe, for example the big Horizon projects. All in all, I had a great time and I’m looking forward for more! Lets see what innovative ideas we can help get funding this year!  Get funding, make impact!


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